REVIEWED VERSION: 2001 Warner Bros. Director's Cut Australian DVD
Director: Richard Donner
Cast: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci, Joss Ackland, Patsy Kensit, Derrick O'Connor, Darlene Love, Traci Wolfe, Steve Kahan
LAPD's finest Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) are back. What was supposed to be an ordinary drug bust turns out to be quite big: the thugs have automatic weapons and helicopters... and a trunk full of illegal krugerrands.
Murtaugh's and his family's lives are threatened by masked assailants who break into their home and Captain Murphy (Steve Kahan) reassigns the duo to guard a witness (Joe Pesci). Both cases turn out to be related and lead to the South African consulate, unfortunately the men there hide behind diplomatic immunity.
THE PROS & CONS
LETHAL WEAPON 2 is a sequel done RIGHT. It has a fantastic and original story that does not simply retell the original's story (great jobs by Shane Black, Warren Murphy and Jeffrey Boam).
LW 2 still manages to maintain a healthy balance between action and humor before slapstick took the overhand in the inferior parts 3 & 4. Well-written dialogues make believable, human characters.
LW 2 adds Leo Getz (Joe Pesci) to the main cast for the remainder of the series, a crazy character, who thanks to Pesci's talent actually works out fine. This could have easily backfired however.
Riggs and Murtaugh's characters have already been well established. I LOVE THESE CHARACTERS! Perfect cast, perfect acting! I cannot see anyone else playing either. The supporting cast, including a boss that anyone would wish for, Captain Murphy (Steve Kahan) as well as the Murtaugh family (Darlene Love, Traci Wolfe, Damon Hines and Ebonie Smith) were well cast and deliver great performances.
As in the original Richard Donner does a similarly excellent job directing the sequel. Well choreographed action scenes, a clever and great character-driven story with "real" villains and suspense that is maintained throughout the film.
Also a great jazz score and a title song sung by Eric Clapton - can it get any better???
The Director's Cut adds 3 1/2 minutes in 3 scenes which are not as crucial as the scenes added to the DC of the original LETHAL WEAPON, but still add to the characters Riggs and Murtaugh.
LETHAL WEAPON 2 has a ridiculous history of censorship in the UK. More than one minute was cut to achieve the 15 rating for the movie theaters, the VHS version saw a few cuts waived and the rating raised to an 18, but still was cut by half a minute. The same cuts were reapplied to this Director's Cut in 2001, while the Australian DVD (region code 4 & 2, playable on European DVD Players!) was uncut. The Theatrical version was finally passed UNCUT with a 15 Certificate in 2010. The German FSK 16 version suffered even more cuts than the BBFC 18 version. For the DC I recommend the US DVD or if you cannot play region 1, the Australian DVD. The UK Blu-Ray set contains the uncut theatrical versions of all 4 parts and has been downgraded to a 15. The video and audio quality are better but this set misses the additional scenes of the DC.
LETHAL WEAPON 2 is in every way equal to the original, I especially love the finale. Brilliant and one of the best action films of all times. Definitely a must-own.
ON A SIDE NOTE
- Writer Shane Black quit his work on LW 2 after he decided to kill the character of Martin Riggs at the end and Warner Bros. vetoed that decision, wanting to make a sequel
- LW 2 has a total body count of 33 - the highest in the series
- despite the film's anti-South African stance, it was passed uncut by the South African censors and became a major financial success in that country.
Feature running time: 113:10 mins. (uncut Director's Cut)
Rating: Unrated (MPAA) / 15 (BBFC) (rerated 2010, Theatrical Cut)
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 / 16:9
Audio: English 5.1, French 5.1, Italian 5.1
Subtitles: English, English HoH, French, Italian, Bulgarian, Spanish (Castellano), German, Dutch, Portuguese, Romanian, Italian HoH, arabic
Extras: Cast and Crew (text displaying which actor plays which role, same as end credits), Stunts and Action Featurette (3:44)
Region: 2, 4 / PAL (locked)
Picture quality: 3/5
Audio quality: 3/5
Warner missed an opportunity with the release of the Director's cut: the same mediocre video and audio quality as the previous release, but the major disappointment is the total absense of extras. There is a one "page" text on the cast & crew, which gives no information on the actors but just tells us which actor played which character - kind of like the end credits. Wow. Couldn't have done without that!